The morning after my future sister’s wedding, my fiance and I attended the family brunch and were asked the question: short or long engagement?
B. said “short” and I said “long” – the listeners laughed.
We’ve been engaged for eight months now; four more months to go. It’s been a struggle intertwined with the joy of deepening our relationship and connections. As B. prepares to apply for residencies, I’m working, planning our wedding and preparing to transition into married life. We’ve made budgets and meshed five year plans. I’ve decided to delay grad school and he’s studied for and taken test after test following each rotation.
And that’s love, we’ve been told – let each struggle bring you closer together and closer to God, they say. But those practicalities are not even the hardest part for us. No, the hardest part of our engagement is that we’re still single people.
We’re long-distance and living with our families. B.’s weekends are usually on call and I try to balance my schedule with his. I’m squirreling away my income so we don’t have to take out any more loans. We’re preparing to join two lives, two finances, two kinds of dish washing preferences and styles and prayer lives and quirks together into one union.
We’re single and we’re engaged and we’re ready to be married in a very real and literal way. This is our struggle, and there is a profound loneliness no amount of hand holding, night prayers or assurances of love can quench. This is why we both need Christ.
In Song of Solomon, it reads
Upon my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he gave me no answer. “I will rise ow and go about the city, in the streets and in the squares; I will seek him whom my soul loves.” I sought him, and found him not. The watchmen found me, as they went about the city. “Have you seen him whom my soul loves?” Scarcely has I passed them, when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go until I had brought him into my mother’s house… I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the hinds of the field, that you stir not up nor awaken love until it please” (3:1-5).
In these verses, I see my own beloved, and think of our chance meeting; I also see Christ in them. I experienced many heart wrangles before experiencing such human love, and I am of the firmest persuasion that B. and I met when we did because of Christ’s divine love for us.
Many single people desire to marry but do not first seek the peace of Christ first. Too often, God becomes an acquaintance when he should be the wingman.
In 1979, Blessed John Paul II addressed young people in Madison Square Garden. He told them that the meaning of life is to know Christ:
When you wonder about the mystery of yourself, look to Christ who gives you the meaning of life. When you wonder what it means to be a mature person, look to Christ who is the fullness of humanity. And when you wonder about your role in the future of the world and the of the United States, look to Christ.
In the midst of my engagement, as I pray thanksgiving to God for my intended, I also talk to Christ about our struggles. Even in an engagement, there is a lot of loneliness. There are times we cannot talk, we cannot comfort, and we cannot be with each other. We cannot yet share many the ordinary movements which make up life. Still, this time is not wasted and it is needed. I am glad the Church requires at least six months for the engagement period. I am glad we struggle with temptation instead of trivializing it. I am glad that we can help carry this cross with Christ.
It is in Christ that I first loved B. It is in Christ that I love him and others. It is only in Christ whom I can rest my heart. It is him whom my soul seeks, and one is never truly single when Christ is with you.
Christ, my Lord! Christ, my Savior! Christ, my wingman! Pray for us! Be with us! We’re in it for the long haul.